Irish Penal Reform Trust

Scotland: Guide for People with Learning Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System

11th August 2011

The Scottish Government has recently published a Guide aimed at improving the relationship between people with learning disabilities and the criminal justice system. The Guide is aimed at people with learning disabilities; their families and carers; police officers; lawyers; prison officers and all others who engage with people with learning disabilities in the context of the criminal justice system. 

It provides very clear guidance through the processes of the criminal justice system and indicates the ways in which people with learning disabilities as witnesses, victims, accused or convicted persons may be better understood and better accommodated within the system. The Guide provides information on identifying learning disabilities and ensuring that adequate supports are put in place in every context that a person with learning disabilities comes into contact with the criminal justice system. 

While the Guide is written in the Scottish context a great deal of the information regarding the identification, understanding and support of people with learning disabilities may be applied in Ireland also. A study published in 2000 in Ireland found that among the sample (10% of the total prison population) the results of 28.8% of prisoners were suggestive of a learning disability. The Study noted that there were no procedures in place within the Irish Prison Service to identify learning disabilities. 

Read the Scottish Guide here

Read the 2000 Irish Study here 

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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